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07/21/87 Norene Becker, As Guardian v. Country Mutual Insurance

July 21, 1987




APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT

NORENE BECKER, as Guardian of the Estate of Michael Becker,

a Disabled Adult, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. COUNTRY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee

510 N.E.2d 1316, 158 Ill. App. 3d 63, 110 Ill. Dec. 285 1987.IL.1036

Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. William Starnes, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE KASSERMAN delivered the opinion of the court. KARNS, P.J., and HARRISON, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE KASSERMAN

The plaintiff, Norene Becker, as guardian of the estate of Michael Becker, a disabled adult, appeals from a judgment of the circuit court of St. Clair County in favor of the defendant, Country Mutual Insurance Company. The appeal presents three issues for review: (1) whether the trial court erred in "finding the set-off provision in defendant's policy applicable to the medical expense claim of the plaintiff"; (2) whether the plaintiff is entitled to recover, pursuant to section 155 of the Illinois Insurance Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 73, par. 767), for the defendant's vexatious refusal and "failure to pay plaintiff a portion of medical expenses covered under defendant's policy"; and (3) whether the plaintiff may stack medical coverages under the policy in question.

The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant on November 22, 1982, seeking in count I of the complaint $20,000 in medical benefits under a policy of automobile insurance issued by the defendant to Roy Rusteberg, in whose car Michael Becker was riding as a passenger when he was severely injured in an accident on October 21, 1979. Michael Becker had been adjudicated a disabled person, totally without capacity to care for his person or estate, on February 17, 1982, and the plaintiff herein, his mother, was appointed guardian of both his person and estate. The parties stipulate that Michael Becker's medical expenses have exceeded $100,000. At the time of the accident two vehicles of Roy Rusteberg's were insured under the policy, namely, a 1974 Chevrolet, the vehicle in which Michael Becker was injured, and a 1976 Ford. The policy, attached to the complaint as an exhibit, indicates that for each of the two vehicles, the coverage limitation for medical payment for each person injured in an accident is $10,000. The plaintiff sought to stack the medical benefits for the two automobiles and sued for damages in a total amount of $20,000.

In count II of the complaint the plaintiff sought $100,000 in punitive damages for the defendant's alleged vexatious refusal to pay the medical benefits sought in count I.

Concerning "Liability," the policy in question provides in section I for "Coverage A -- Bodily Injury Liability." In addition, concerning "Medical Payments and Death Benefits," the policy provides in section III for "Coverage C -- Medical Payments." Under the "Limits of

Liability" specified in section III at page six, the policy states as follows:

"B. * * *

If claim is made under Coverage C of this Section III, and claim is also made against any person who is an insured under Coverage A, Section I of this policy on account of bodily injury sustained in an accident ...


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